It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
One of the most notorious druglords of all time, Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria single-handedly controlled a majority of the world's cocaine trade in the 1980s and early 1990s. During his time at the helm of the infamous Medellin Drug Cartel, he made billions of dollars by flooding the streets of America with hundreds of thousands of kilos of coke every year. He also unleashed a wave of terror in his native Colombia by indiscriminately eliminating anyone who stood in his way.
The Early Days
The third of seven children born to a peasant and an elementary school teacher, Pablo Escobar was born on December 1, 1949 in a Colombian village called Rionegro. From a very young age, he had to resort to petty crime in order to survive. He slowly graduated to more serious offenses like car theft, kidnapping, and smuggling contraband. Soon his humble beginnings were a thing of the past as he began to enjoy his illicit gains.
When he was 26, Escobar was arrested for possession of 18 kgs of cocaine. Within days, his arresting officer was mysteriously killed, 9 judges who were to oversee his case were threatened, and all the evidence against him was destroyed. That was the only bust of Pablo Escobar's life and was to serve as an ominous portent on how he intended to deal with the authorities in his rise to the top of the cocaine world.
Around this time, he started his own cocaine operation and gradually took over the majority of the drug trade in Colombia. He even killed Fabio Restrepo, the then-leader of the Medellin Cartel and took over the reigns of the organization.
Rise To The Top
While heading the Medellin Cartel, Escobar managed to align himself with some of the most powerful drug dealers, both in Colombia and abroad. With their help, he was successful in monopolizing the market by derailing rivals like the Cali Cartel.
His motto was plata o plomo, which means silver or lead in Spanish. He'd offer handsome bribes to the police, officials, informants and politicians, but he'd murder them if they turned him down. This is how he managed to build an extremely strong network within the Colombian government.
Along with his thriving business, Escobar also had political ambitions. He tried to foster a Robin Hood-like image by building soccer grounds, schools, hospitals and housing projects in poor neighborhoods. As a result of his selective largesse, he was even elected as an alternate to the Congress.
Meanwhile, his cocaine business was making him an annual profit of over $2.75 billion as he was supplying over 80% of the product that ended up on American streets. By this time, he had bought several mansions, airplanes and helicopters. He had even recruited a formidable army of enforcers that served him with unquestioning loyalty and blind devotion.
In 1985, at the peak of his power, Escobar did what no drug lord had ever dared--he sent several heavily armed men to the Colombian Palace of Justice to destroy all evidence against him and to massacre the lawmakers who wanted to extradite him to America. His success in doing so led American president Ronald Reagan to declare a war on drugs. This small-town son of a Colombian farmer was now the FBI's most wanted man!
For years, Pablo Escobar's illicit activities went unchecked by the toothless and complicit Colombian authorities. He even had three out of the five presidential candidates for the 1989 national election assassinated as they were in favor of having him extradited to the USA. However, the single most heinous act that he ever committed was the bombing of Avianca Flight 203, which killed 110 innocent people. The motive? To kill one of these presidential candidates who, it turned out, wasn't even on the plane!
Escobar eventually surrendered to the Colombian authorities in exchange for them not extraditing him. The terms of his imprisonment were laughable, as he confined himself to a prison called La Catedral that was custom-built to his specifications, which called for more of a Playboy Mansion vibe than that of a correctional facility. Guarded by his henchmen, he continued to run his business from Le Catedral, until he executed a few of his former associates there.
This truly marked the beginning of the end of Escobar as Colombian law enforcement along with the DEA, FBI and some revolutionaries decided to finish him off once and for all. He managed to escape from the authorities and remained at large for quite a while.
At about the same time, a group called the Pepe Rebels was founded by some of Escobar's former aides, whom he had betrayed. These rebels started killing anyone who had absolutely any connection with Escobar, in an attempt to get him to surrender. At the same time, a team called the Search Bloc was organized by the Colombian government in association with the US. It is rumoured that the Search Bloc supported the Pepe Rebels' attempts at getting to Escobar.
"I'm a decent man who exports flowers."
"Everyone has a price, the important thing is to find out what it is."
"Sometimes I am God, if I say a man dies, he dies that same day."
"All empires are created of blood and fire."
"I prefer to be in the grave in Colombia than in a jail cell in the United States."
"I can replace things, but I could never replace my wife and kids."
As is evident from that last quote, the cold-hearted Escobar had only one weakness--his family. He had two children--Juan Pablo and Manuela--from his wife Maria Victoria. In true druglord style, he lived in a palatial mansion called Hacienda Napoles in Puerto Triunfo, Colombia. Along with several cars, planes and helicopters, he even had a huge collection of exotic animals in his personal zoo. No points for guessing how he acquired those animals!
Although he was a dedicated family man, Escobar also enjoyed the company of prostitutes. He frequently had dozens of women over at his mansions for wild parties--even at Le Catedral where he was "incarcerated."
Death And Legacy
Escobar's love for his family was what led him to his grave. While hiding from the authorities, he made the fatal error of constantly phoning his son, who along with Escobar's wife and daughter, was under police surveillance.
The Colombian police finally triangulated his phone signal and located him in a house in Medellin where he was gunned down by officers on December 2, 1993.
After his death, there were quite a few mourners in Colombia--especially among those whom he helped with his enormous wealth. However, the vast majority rejoiced the death of a truly despicable human being.
Even though he's long gone, Escobar left behind a horrible legacy that manifests itself to this day. Colombia is still marred by drug wars; only now, the players in this vicious game are different and, some would say, worse.
A Marxist guerrilla outfit called The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has taken over from the old city-based drug cartels. To add to this, the violence started by Escobar has now spread as far north as Mexico, where over 15,000 people died in drug-related incidents last year.
-Pictures courtesy medellin-colombia.blogspot.com, snowcapbernese.com and newsfour.tk-
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